Wrestle Kingdom 13 Preview!
We normally would have done a preview of New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom 13 this week on the HTCWrestling Podcast, but schedule conflicts didn’t allow that to happen. But The Chairman and Justin C were able to do a quick preview write up before the show, so here are their picks!
Most Violent Players (Togi Makabe and Toru Yano) and Ryusuke Taguchi vs. Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb and David Finlay vs. Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Beretta and Chuckie T.) vs. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith Jr.) vs. The Elite (Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi and Marty Scurll) #1 Contender Gauntlet Match for the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship
The Chairman: So this is happening on the pre-show and there are alot of talented wrestlers involved. This is definitely a great way to get the show started and it’s crazy seeing Minoru Suzuki listed here when he’s usually involved in a higher profile feud. Elite fans will get to see Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi, and The Villain in this match as well. Assuming the winners will challenge Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Tajii Ishimori for the titles at New Years Dash, but that will remain to be seen. This match is going to cover every element in pro wrestling from brutal heel tactics to comedy. Tough to pick the winner here, but I’m assuming The Elite wins this match being they’re feuding with the Bullet Club OG’s and it only makes sense to elevate their feud another level.
Justin C: This is New Japan’s version of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. Of course this is also an actual match and will lead to something meaningful to the winner down the line. Expect some Toru Yano comedy spots with Minoru Suzuki. Unlike The Chairman, I don’t see The Elite winning since I think Page isn’t long for New Japan. I’ll give the win to Suzuki-gun.
Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay for the NEVER Openweight Championship
The Chairman: This is going to be a really good match and some people have this listed as their most anticipated match of the event. Except to see two of the best aerial wrestlers collide here. Hopefully Ospreay is finally healthy being he’s been dealing with some injuries as of late. Ibushi won the title just recently at World Tag League defeating Hirooki Goto so I expect Kota Ibushi to retain here. I can’t see him losing the title on his first defense. Ibushi however does have a formidable opponent in Ospreay. Should be a good one.
Justin C: It is crazy to think that this match is opening the main show. Good luck following that. Dave Meltzer may blow a load early watching this (sorry Dave I had to.) This match could also result in either guy breaking their neck because I am sure they will go all out in this match. I tend to agree with The Chairman here. I don’t think Ibushi loses in his first title defense. So I will give Ibushi the win. But I still expect big things from Ospreay heading into 2019.
Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru and El Desperado) (c) vs Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) vs Los Ingobernables de Japon (Bushi and Shingo Takagi) for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship
The Chairman: Kanemaru and El Desperado of Suzuki-gun have had quite a run with the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship. With four defenses under their belt and champions since March, they’ll have their work cut out for them if they want to retain. Roppongi 3K are no strangers to the titles as they’re former two time champions and lost the belts to Suzuki-gun. Los Ingobernables de Japon have been on the chase as well, but unsuccessful. With Hiromu Takahashi’s tragic injury, Bushi has been running with LIJ’s newest member Shingo Takagi. I definitely think we get new champions, but will it be Roppongi 3K or LIJ? I’m going to take a bold pick here and say Bushi and Shingo Takagi win the titles giving LIJ their first reign as IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions.
Justin C: Similar to how I think Will Ospreay will have a big year in 2019, I think big things are in store for LIJ as well. We may see the return of Hiromu Takahashi who will more than likely jump right into contention for the Junior Heavyweight Title. I’m kind of over Roppongi 3k as far as winning the Titles is concerned. So I’m picking Bushi and Shingo Takagi here as well. They start what should be a big night for LIJ.
Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr for the British Heavyweight Championship
The Chairman: Wrestle Kingdom is such a big event that titles outside of NJPW get defended at it. The British Heavyweight Championship from Revolution Pro Wrestling will be on the line as Tomohiro Ishii defends it against Zack Sabre Jr. Ishii is a two time champion after defeating Minoru Suzuki at Global Wars UK back in October. Sabre Jr was a former champion and had a reign of over a year before losing the title to Ishii back in April so Sabre Jr clearly has revenge on his mind. The battle between Ishii and Suzuki-gun rages on in this battle and we’re going to see another classic between the brute strength of Ishii and the technical mastermind of Sabre Jr. I’m predicting Sabre Jr takes the title from Ishii in this one.
Justin C: After Naito, Ishii is my favorite wrestler in New Japan. And I know he will probably never win the IWGP Heavyweight Title so it is nice to see him get some recognition and at least hold another major Title from around the world. This really is a contrast in styles and I expect it to be a fun match to watch. As much as I like Ishii I expect ZSJ to regain the Title in this match.
Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (Sanada and Evil) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) for the IWGP Tag Team Championship
The Chairman: It’s a three way dance between three of the top tag teams in the world. Since Wrestling Kingdom 12 last January these are the only three tag teams to hold the IWGP Tag Team Championship. Evil and Sanada reigned from Wrestle Kingdom 12 until Dominion in June when they lost to the Young Bucks. The Young Bucks then reigned as champs until Fighting Spirit Unleashed in September to Guerrillas of Destiny. It’s only fitting these three teams would collide on the biggest stage of them all. Sanada and Evil defeated Guerrilas of Destiny in the finals to win World Tag League and made a challenge for the titles. Young Bucks of course weren’t going to stand on the sidelines throwing their names in the hat as well making this three way official. Definitely hard to pick the winners here, but I’m going to say Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa escape Wrestle Kingdom with their titles.
Justin C: After the new of AEW I think you can pretty much write off the Young Bucks here. Sure they could win and work New Japan and AEW, but my guess is that they will be focused on getting everything off the ground with AEW. So that leaves us with the Guerrillas of Destiny and LIJ. As I said above, I think 2019 is the year of LIJ in New Japan. And I like EVIL and Sanada as a tag team. So I’m giving them the win here when they pin one of the Bucks. You have the story of neither the Guerrillas of Destiny getting pinned to lose the Titles so you have a program going forward.
Cody (c) vs Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Championship
The Chairman: Cody you could very well argue had one of the best years for a professional wrestler in 2018. One of his accolades was winning the IWGP United States Championship at Fighting Spirit Unleashed against Juice Robinson. Call it a rematch if you will because that’s what this is. Cody hasn’t defended the title since winning it and Juice definitely wants his title back. I think Juice Robinson wins the IWGP United States Championship back making him the first two time champion as Cody probably has bigger things to deal with in 2019.
Justin C: If you want to go with a “Lock of the Night” then this one is it. Juice Robinson is over huge in Japan. Everyone loves him. And like I said with the Bucks above, Cody is going to be focused on AEW in the coming months. Juice gets the US Title back here and starts to rise up the card in 2019.
KUSHIDA (c) vs Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
The Chairman: KUSHIDA won the title for the sixth time at King of Pro Wrestling defeating Marty Scurll in the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship tournament to crown a new champion after it was vacated by Hiromu Takahashi due to injury. KUSHIDA looks to make his first defense of his latest reign at Wrestle Kingdom against Ishimori. Ishimori pinned KUSHIDA in a tag match for Super Junior Tag League and then Ishimori cost KUSHIDA a match at Power Struggle by attacking him with a crutch faking an injury. I’d be shocked to see KUSHIDA lose this one, but Taiji Ishimori is definitely impressive in the ring. With that being said, I’m still going to say KUSHIDA retains the title.
Justin C: There are rumors that the WWE is interested in signing KUSHIDA. No one really knows when his contract is up. If he is WWE bound then this one is easy to pick. But I don’t think Ishimori takes the Title from KUSHIDA here. I just don’t think he is the guy to beat KUSHIDA.
Kazuchika Okada vs Jay White
The Chairman: Easily the biggest non-title match on the card by a landslide. Then again it’s the only non-title match on the main Wrestling Kingdom card. As many know, Switchblade Jay White returned to NJPW and joined Chaos, won the IWGP United States Championship, and had an excellent showing in the G1 Climax. White started showing animosity towards Okada in their match during the G1 Climax tournament taking things way too far. White didn’t care how bad he hurt Okada as long as he won. White fell short in the G1 tournament, but was the only one to defeat eventual champion and rival Hiroshi Tanahashi. When Okada was awarded the first shot at Tanahashi’s Wrestle Kingdom title shot, that did not sit well with White. White after their match attacked both of them and in a shocking turn of events, Okada’s long time manager Gedo turned his back on him and aligned with Switchblade. White got his chance at Tanahashi at King of Pro Wrestling, but was unable to secure the win. This led to White assaulting Tanahashi and Okada tried to make the save. Jado came out to seperate Okada and Gedo, but Jado ended up turning on Okada as well joining in a brutal assault by the Bullet Club OG’s. Switchblade Jay White has been appointed the new leader of Bullet Club since and will take on the leader of Chaos Kazuchika Okada in a rivalry as personal as it gets. Who wins you ask? You can’t bet against Okada so I definitely think he wins this one, even though I really would like to see Switchblade win.
Justin C: This one is a real toss up for me. I know some people seem to think Okada is a lock to win here. But I’m not so sure. Okada is the man in New Japan regardless of wins or losses. This isn’t like the WWE where he will go on a losing streak and shoved down the card. Okada’s IWGP Heavyweight Title run cemented him as one of the best wrestlers in the world and the history of Japan. So I don’t think a loss necessarily hurts Okada. A win for Jay White would make him big in the eyes of a lot of people in Japan. Plus, if Kenny Omega leaves, New Japan is going to need a new gaijin star to take over that top spot. And I think Jay White is ready to take that spot. And if you would have told me that a year ago I would have laughed at you. But White’s game has reached new heights over the last year. And that is why I have talked myself into this upset. I’m picking Jay White to beat Okada in the Tokyo Dome.
Chris Jericho (c) vs Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
The Chairman: This feud has been going on for awhile. Naito didn’t appreciate sharing his main event status at last year’s Wrestle Kingdom with Jericho and Kenny Omega when Naito won the G1 Climax and was awarded the main event and IWGP Heavyweight Championship match against Kazuchika Okada. This led to Jericho brutally assaulting Naito at New Year’s Dash the day after. Jericho returned at Wrestling Dontaku and attacked Naito again leading to their match at Dominion. Jericho defeated Naito for the Intercontinental title and wasn’t seen for a lengthy amount of time. Jericho’s first defense was at Power Struggle against Naito’s LIJ stablemate Evil where Jericho successful retained. Naito came to the ring after the match and confronted Jericho issuing a challenge. Jericho said he had nothing to prove to Naito and that he already beat him refusing to do the match. Regardless though the match is official and Jericho will meet Naito at Wrestle Kingdom. More than likely Tetsuya Naito beats Jericho and becomes the champion and who knows what Jericho has in store next afterwards.
Justin C: The night of LIJ comes full circle here. Chris Jericho has held the IWGP Intercontinental Title for quite some time. But he hasn’t really done anything with it. I was fine with Jericho winning it as a one off. But holding it this long while only defending it once really isn’t my thing. I expect this match to be more of a brawl than an actual wrestling match. And I’ll be curious to see what kind of weird outfit Jericho decided to come out in. But I’m picking Naito to get back the Intercontinental Title here. And after the match, Hiromu Takahashi comes out with the rest of LIJ and they celebrate their night of Titles in the ring.
Kenny Omega (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship
The Chairman: It all comes down to this. The main event of Wrestle Kingdom 13. If you would’ve told me a year ago this was the IWGP Heavyweight Championship match I probably wouldn’t have believed you. But it’s 2019 and here we are! Omega finally defeated Okada at Dominion in what some would say was 2018’s match of the year and Tanahashi of course won the G1 Climax. After Tanahashi dealt with Okada and Jay White to keep his Wrestle Kingdom title shot and Omega survived Ishii at Power Struggle and a match against Cody and Kota Ibushi at King of Pro Wrestling to keep his IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the stage is set. Tanahashi is no stranger to big matches at Wrestle Kingdom, Omega is definitely going to have to bring his best to overcome this challenge. This match could go either way, but it’s hard for me to predict against the Ace of NJPW so I’m sensing a title change and Hiroshi Tanahashi wins the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Justin C: Kenny Omega was conveniently left out of all the promo stuff for All Elite Wrestling. I think that is for two reasons. One, I really think Kenny Omega is undecided on his future. And two, even if he did decide to go with AEW, putting him in those promo packages would pretty much give away the result of the match. Either way, I think the result is already written. Omega is not advertised for the New Japan show at Madison Square Garden. I’m pretty sure the IWGP Heavyweight Title is going to be defended at the Garden. Sure Omega could keep it until then. But Tanahashi has had an amazing year at his age. He had a great G1 and follow up as well. And I think he gets one more Title run by defeating Kenny Omega, then defends the Title against Okada at MSG.
Follow Us On Twitter @HTCWrestling for Wrestle Kingdom coverage!